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How Does Amputation Affect Quality of Life?

How Does Amputation Affect Quality of Life?

When something as drastic as an amputation occurs after an accident, a victim may feel that their life has changed for the worst. They may also experience any number of setbacks physically. These setbacks are not linear, and can occur at any time during recovery. The impact of losing a limb can also occur mentally. Victims may feel at peace at one moment, but suffer horrific flashbacks to the accident or the operating room the next. This is the nature of what’s known as “medical PTSD” and often occurs alongside amputation injuries.

In this Shaked Law Resource article we’ll provide in-depth Personal Injury insight on what happens after a victim suffers an amputation due to a catastrophic accident. This insight is firsthand information from Sagi Shaked, a double Board Certified civil trial lawyer who has tried and won numerous amputation-related lawsuits and recovered millions of dollars in damages on behalf of his clients.

There are multiple aspects of amputation cases that all factor into a successful outcome, and we’ll discuss each of the following in our writeup.

  • The financial impact of amputation injuries
  • How are surgical errors affecting patients quality of life?
  • What is “foreseeability”? How is it helping healthcare providers act on behalf of patients?
  • What determines a medical malpractice lawsuit after amputation?
  • What is the emotional impact of amputation on patients after an accident?
  • How do lawyers help restore Quality of Life?
  • What happens after an accident with catastrophic injuries?

The financial impact of amputation injuries

For a victim of an amputation, the emotional trauma is immeasurable. Victims of surgical errors or accidents that resulted in loss of a limb may have flashbacks to the OR or the scene of the accident. These flashbacks and the resulting PTSD may keep them from engaging with loved ones or pursuing new hobbies. A Personal Injury lawyer ensures that all of this factors into the damages a victim receives. An economic recovery period will ensure that at least, the victim can provide for their loved ones financially during a time of deep emotional and physical turmoil.

In 2018’s Economic Recovery after TBI: How Victims and Families Get Back on Their Feet After Serious Injury article, we provided an in-depth look at economic recovery and how it’s something victims and their families are often unaware they’re entitled to before retaining legal counsel to represent them after an accident. After a serious accident that results in permanent injury or wrongful death, the victim and their loved ones suffer steep financial losses that can result in mental anguish. When a victim or their loved ones can’t pay the bills, the medical expenses, or provide for minor children, it creates an unhealthy living situation that can result in emotional turmoil for everyone involved.

Does Loss of Limb Have to Mean Loss of Quality of Life? ©BigStockPhoto

Does Loss of Limb Have to Mean Loss of Quality of Life? ©BigStockPhoto

How are surgical errors affecting patients quality of life?

In the event of a surgical error that causes the patient to become the victim of an amputation, the surgeon could be liable for malpractice, medical negligence, or recklessness. There are several puzzle pieces that must fit together to provide a clear picture of whether or not the surgeon was at-fault, as well as whether the surgeon acted in a manner that can be considered “reasonable”.

Foreseeability is a large part of medical negligence and the medical malpractice claims that can ensue as a result. Could the physician have reasonably “foresaw” the outcome of their actions and what would occur as a result? Sometimes, a medical malpractice lawsuit comes down to “foreseeability”. This means whether or not the doctor was acting in a manner that could have prevented what occurred.

What is “foreseeability”? How is it helping healthcare providers act on behalf of patients?

There are several ways that surgeons can use the principle of “foreseeability” in the case of a surgical error resulting in amputation:

  • Marking the limb intended for surgery clearly so as not to operate on the wrong limb in error
  • Reviewing the medical records and chart notes prior to entering the operating room, insuring they’re operating on the correct patient.
  • HIPAA law requires a patient to state their full name and date of birth to the medical provider and for the medical provider to cross check that information on the patient’s EMR (electronic medical record). This requirement is in place for surgical procedures, dispensing of medication, and providing medical records to parties with access to those records.
  • Ensuring that OSHA protocol is followed to the letter in the operating room and throughout the hospital. Failing to follow OSHA’s hospital protocol’s for infection control could result in patient’s contracting deadly infections post-op that can lead to side effects that range from prolonged hospital stays to fatalities in immunocompromised individuals such as the very young or the elderly.

OSHA matters

Surgeons who make an effort to follow protocol while maintaining their level of professionalism are acting reasonably. However, surgeons who neglect to abide by OSHA’s strict standards, or rely on memory and assume they know everything about the patient with only a quick glance at the chart can be held liable in the event that a surgical error is made and the patient must undergo an amputation.

Furthermore, should the surgeon neglect to mark the limb and operates on an uninjured limb, they will be held liable. They may face serious repercussions such as loss of  medical licensure and judgements for damages incurred by the victim.

What’s determines a medical malpractice lawsuit after amputation?

As we’ve explained on the Law Resource in our other writeups, there are specific criteria that must be met in order to establish medical malpractice occurred within the scope of a lawsuit. The criteria for this type of medical malpractice is standard.

Below, we’ve listed the criteria accident lawyers look for when accepting a case in which amputation occurred:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed
  2. A negligent doctor
  3. The physician’s carelessness harmed the patient in a way that “more than likely” caused them not to receive proper care in a timely manner that could’ve been life sustaining
After an amputation, victims must cope with a "new normal". ©BigStockPhoto

After an amputation, victims must cope with a “new normal”. ©BigStockPhoto

What is the emotional impact of amputation on patients after an accident?

Sometimes patients learn that they may lose a limb. Other times they wake up to an amputation. There is no expectation of these patients to be “fine” emotionally when receiving this news. Physically, amputation of a limb has obvious consequences. However, those who have not experienced such a trauma cannot understand the emotional impact amputation has on a victim. The enormous emotional anguish and PTSD that results from amputation is not measurable in dollars.

After an amputation, victims must cope with a “new normal”. They must learn to live life differently than they once did, and may feel extreme levels of anxiety and depression. They’re giving up hobbies or a career due to an accident or surgical error over which they have no control. For some, receiving care from others when they were once active and independent is difficult to accept. Victims also may find themselves wheelchair bound for extended amount of time. If medical interventions such as Physical and Occupational therapy fail to restore ability to walk using prothesis, wheelchair use can be permanent.

How do lawyers help restore Quality of Life?

It’s difficult to say if full quality of life can be restored after an amputation. However, a Personal Injury lawyer dedicates their entire career to pursuing the justice the client deserves after trauma. While amputation doesn’t mean the victim’s life is over, the road to recover is long and winding, and has many unforeseen ups and downs. The victim will require physical and occupational therapies, and prothesis if they choose. They may require future surgeries which can take an emotional and mental toll, causing further PTSD.

All victims of amputation must adjust to a new normal they never thought possible. This is why a Board Certified lawyer in their corner is a priceless asset. The lawyer will never let the client be bullied by the insurance company after suffering an amputation. An experienced and compassionate lawyer will stop at nothing to do what’s right for the client.

What happens after an accident with catastrophic injuries?

When a catastrophic accident occurs, victims must quickly retain a lawyer with Board Certification. Legal advice is a necessity once the victim is medically stable. An expert lawyer can help the family on the road to recovery both on the financial side, and the medical side. Lawyers can help restore quality of life the victim with the dignity they rightfully deserve.

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